Episode 029: Visitors! To The Kingdom Of Chaos And Beasts
Episode 029: Visitors! To The Kingdom Of Chaos And Beasts
Other than some basic knowledge about how the world worked, which included the names of Ceifeed, Shabranigdu and the five monster lords, Zelgadis didn't know much else. He didn't know the names of any of the minions of the major monster lords and didn't question Filia's claim about being Beast Master's general priestess. He just looked at her strangely.
Noticing the stare, Filia elaborated, "I assure you, I speak the truth." She did a very short range teleportation, moving from the area behind Xellos to right next to Zelgadis. "However, even if you are the escaped pet of Lord Deep Sea Dolphin, I have no reason to return you to her unless I am ordered to do so, as I serve only Lord Beast Master."
All these people seemed to be familiar with Amelia and with him, Zelgadis noticed. He wondered what kind of strange life he lived before. If someone like Filia was his acquaintance, then maybe he shouldn't even be surprised that he ended up the way he did, getting involved in monster business like that.
xoxox xox xoxox
It was decided that Zelgadis would accompany the group. Though he could get around on dry land with the use of levitation, they couldn't exactly be seen with a merman. Then again, their group was strange already and they had been seen with a chimera during their past adventures. Plus there was the fact that Xellos had his tail out all the time, revealing his current species too. Even so, there was no need to make people talk about the merman. It might catch Dolphin's attention and she might just decide to make room in her busy schedule to find him, or pull a minion away from a different task and send someone over to take her pet back.
Thus they resolved to disguise Zelgadis with long robes that touched the ground and made him look a whole lot like Rezo. Zelgadis didn't fully remember Rezo, but he had the vague knowledge of having an ancestor, a grandfather perhaps, with such a name. He didn't remember the later part of his life with Rezo when he became a bitter chimera, but recalled bits and pieces of the happier times. Given that, even though the clothing was not really what he would call his style, he didn't protest to wearing the long robes if it would allow him to blend in at the towns they passed.
Lina decided that they should continue looking around and gathering clues about any unusual activities, as that could enlighten the unknown aspects of the world's current situation. As long as the journey continued, Filia had no complaints with Lina's directions. They traveled from one town to another aimlessly and followed all the rumors they heard. From haunted caves in the middle of dark forests, to holy mountains said to grant miracles to those who climbed to the top, they traveled all over the peninsula waiting for a reliable clue to surface.
Just as before, most of the rumors turned out to be false and many times the hauntings were actually stories made up by bandits to protect their hideouts. At least they got some treasure out of those occasions. There was, as expected, plenty of chaos along the way. Filia and Xellos still argued and insulted each other. Zelgadis blushed every time Amelia did something to show him her affection and was slowly starting to understand why the energetic young woman was indeed someone he would like to have as his fiance. Gourry and Lina further developed their friendship, yet there was an invisible barrier that prevented them from discussing feelings beyond those of companionship. They didn't want to get hurt again, even though their break up had all been due to a misunderstanding being blown out of proportions. Yet deep down, neither of them gave up.
Eventually, their travels led them to the kingdom of Zoana, which had been completely restored with some help from Beast Master. As most of the original subjects had left, the place was now populated mostly by black magic users and monster supporters. It was like a giant magic guild that specialized in offensive spells and spells related to Lord Beast Master. Amelia shuddered and silently vowed not to let Seyruun become that way, though it was perhaps in Zelas' best interest to keep Seyruun centered around white magic, to have some interesting variety in her forces should the need arise to bring up the kingdom's born-from-necessity alliance.
Ironically, though the streets were populated by mostly mages along with a few who were not only sorcerers but also ninja, and some who took on the profession of assassins, there were no bandits to be seen in Zoana's streets. The noise of bar fights was completely absent. The dread of the negative energy of black magic hung in the air, yet the atmosphere was strangely still. "This place is eerily peaceful," Amelia observed.
"Of course," Filia proudly assured. "You can't expect Lord Beast Master's followers to be a bunch of unruly animals. They're not dragons."
"Aren't they supposed to be beasts, though?" Xellos pointed out.
The town did indeed have many humans, but it had just as many beastmen. Because of the less than favorable relationship that beastmen and humans shared in the past, some of them were not too keen of following Ceifeed, simply because the humans were. Thus many actually favored Beast Master, simply because they thought she was somehow closer to their kind. It was inaccurate and unwise, but beastmen, just as humans, were easily swayed by the perception of a sense of identification. For the same reason, the beastmen thought that the humans of Zoana were different from other humans.
"Beasts yes, but not the unruly kind. Cunning beasts, hunters whose prey can never escape, effective powerful beasts, elegant beasts," Filia retorted.
"Aren't dragons the most elegant beasts?" Xellos continued.
Filia pouted, "dragons are lizards, they're reptiles!"
"Aren't reptiles beasts?" Xellos pointed out, more so than asked. His face held his ever present grin and cheery eyed expression.
"Yes, but," Filia paused, and rather than continuing the argument directly, she pointed out. "As a dragon, aren't you supposed to be offended by being compared to the monsters?"
Xellos shrugged, his smile still the same as ever, "not really."
Filia frowned, "you should be! Why aren't you defending the dragon race? Why aren't you saying that they could never be compared to the chaotic monsters? You're supposed to be declaring that the dragon race is righteous, just and dignified!"
"I don't have to, because you're doing it for me." Xellos opened one eye in a reverse wink and closed it again, smiling even more if that was even possible. "I didn't realize you had such a high opinion of dragons, I'm flattered."
"You'll be flattened!" Filia yelled and materialized her mace.
"Now, now, Filia, I'm sure you don't want to ruin the elegant atmosphere of Zoana, right?" Lina pointed out.
Surprisingly, it worked. "Hmp!" Filia let her mace fade away, threw her head back and tried her best to ignore Xellos' mocking grin.
"Honestly, I'm not all that surprised that this place is so peaceful," Lina commented. "Everyone has a decent amount of power, so people know not to pick fights. It reminds me of Zephilia in that sense." Except Zephilia was a land that produced many heroes and Zoana would become a land that produced many villains, not petty thieves, but true warlords. Albeit even the troublemakers of Zoana knew not to anger anyone in their homeland, as the possibility of annoying the wrong person, meaning someone more powerful than themselves, was very high. Even the strongest of Zoana held their peace in their home city, as they didn't know when a mission could go wrong and they would find themselves running home with injuries that could mean their demise if their neighbors held any enmity towards them.
"Are we going to find a restaurant soon?" Gourry asked with his stomach supporting the motion with a growl. "I'm hungry."
"Me too," Lina admitted, "but we're not going to a restaurant. This is Zoana, Martina and Zangulus are the rulers here." They had since been able to leave their previous jobs and dedicate themselves to the kingdom in full, though even there they were still working for Beast Master in a sense. "We'll go visit them and have them treat us to a meal. As much as I don't want to hear Martina showing off now that she's rich again, we can use that to our advantage and have her pamper us just to show off." Lina would just have to keep her temper in check for that plan to work, which was easier said than done.
Lina glanced at Amelia, who nodded, silently indicating she had her back. "I'm sure we'll bring out Miss Martina's more hospitable side."
"I'll leave the diplomacy to you then," Lina resolved. "While white magic centric towns are known for their advances in medicine, black magic cities like this one, tend to be known for their unusual dishes. I want to see how the Zoana cuisine has evolved so far and I'll admit I'm curious about little prince Zoamelgustar too."
"Who's Zoamelgustar?" Gourry inquired, predictably.
"Martina and Zangulus son, the prodigy baby mage full of chaotic energy," Lina reminded.
Zelgadis remained quiet through the exchange. Amelia noticed, smiled at him reassuringly and linked her arm with his. He somehow found it in himself to smile back at her, a light pink tint invading his face. This was certainly an odd bunch of people he ended up with, but he was curious to learn more about them, especially about Amelia.
xoxox xox xoxox
The Zoana royal palace looked like the castle of the evil queen from a fairytale, though it might not have been intentional. Yet the many mask sculptures and statues all over the place in Zoamelgustar and Beast Master's symbols gave it an ominous feel. The architecture incorporated not only Zelas official monster seal but also the crest she used in her human business woman persona. The colors included prominent black with highlights of bright yellow here and there.
As Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Filia and Xellos approached the front gates, the guards stood at the ready. "State your business," one of them spoke from under his dark hood.
Lina looked to Amelia, who stepped forward. "I am Amelia Wil Tesla Seyruun, my companions and I are here to visit your king and queen."
'Seyruun,' Zelgadis thought, that was the name of that city of white magic, right? Then Amelia must hold a prominent position there. Could she be...?
"Very well, princess Amelia," the guard spoke, "please follow me." He nodded to the other sentry and left the post in his care as he left the group inside.
'She's a princess!' Zelgadis thought uneasily. This strange band of travelers kept surprising him more and more. A monster, a dragon and a princess; furthermore, the princess was his fiance.
The group followed the guard inside to an elegant waiting room. "Please wait here while I inform the king and queen of your arrival."
"Sure, no problem." Lina immediately made herself comfortable on the sofa, even if it wasn't her style, with its yellow and black lines it looked like a roadside warning sign. She and Gourry immediately attacked the fruit bowl that was left out for guests to snack on should they be bored of waiting and more often treated as a decoration. It looked pretty, but it was edible and the latter was all that mattered to them.
"You're a princess," Zelgadis observed.
Amelia nodded as if it was nothing. "That's right; you didn't remember that, did you? Sorry I didn't mention it."
"That's..." Of all the surprises he could receive, Zelgadis certainly wasn't expecting this. "That's kind of a big thing."
Amelia shrugged, "not really." She smiled reassuringly. "Don't go there again, Zel."
"Don't go where?" Zelgadis inquired.
As if reading his thoughts, Amelia gently voiced. "The whole I'm not good enough for you deal. We went over that and though you may not remember it, I convinced you to let me be the one to decide that." Until the tragedy of the stillborn child convinced him otherwise, but she didn't want to talk about that.
"Oh..." Zelgadis mused on it and for the time being let things be. Though he was still worried, what would a princess have to do with a half fish freak?
A few minutes later, another guard arrived to escort the guests to the throne room. The whole way as they walked there, Lina kept mentally telling herself not to give Martina the satisfaction of blowing her temper.
xoxox xox xoxox
The group was led into the throne room, which predictably, had a big Zoamelgustar mask hanging over the two thrones where the king and queen sat. Zangulus shifted continuously, as if he thought the fancy clothes no doubt Martina forced him to wear for the sake of showing off for their guests were too much. The place was dimly lit with black marble on the floor, walls and high ceiling. A dark red carpet marked a path from the door to the thrones which had yellow curtains on the sides, framing the royal seats and the Zoamelgustar symbol above them.
"Ah! He he ha he he!" Martina laughed. "Welcome guests, to my glorious palace! Ah! He he ha he he!"
"Hey Gourry," Zangulus called out to his rival. "You'll stay long enough for us to spar, right?"
"You bet!" Gourry immediately agreed, then he paused and looked at Lina, "right?" He was just too used to following her.
"Yeah, yeah..." Just hearing Martina's mocking laugh infuriated Lina and she was already having a hard time keeping her temper down.
Not pleased with the interruption, Martina continued. "What do you think of my palace?" The sound of raspberries was heard as the bundle of black blankets on Martina's lap awoke. She let out a high pitched squeal and turned the bundle over to face her, making all sorts of silly faces at it. After a few minutes of receiving odd stares from Lina and company, Martina stopped and removed the black blankets from around the baby, who was all too happy to be free to blow raspberries at all those present and clap his hands for no apparent reason. "Look Zoamelgustar, uncle Xellos is here... Er, I mean, aunty Filia is here!" Martina corrected as she recalled that Filia was temporarily doing Xellos' job, as well as donning his species.
Filia had not been in close communication with Martina during the past year. Xellos on the other hand occasionally dropped by to see how the chaotic energy infused child was developing and report to Beast Master. The boy would certainly grow up to be a great wizard and Zelas wanted to keep him involved in her plans for any future missions that Lina might be for some unlikely reason unable, or daringly unwilling, to cooperate with. As a result of that, neither Filia nor Zoamelgustar were familiar with each other and Filia wondered if she was supposed to be.
Filia's subconscious could modify what memories she kept into something that fitted her current role. Yet she held no memories about this very strange human child that the queen had set down. The boy seemed to have a liking for blowing raspberries and clapping, possibly at his own accomplishment of being able to mock someone. For a creature that held a vast amount of chaotic energy inside a tiny body, the boy certainly looked innocent. He had big pale blue eyes like Martina's and black hair like Zangulus, in an assortment of bouncy curls like Martina's, framing his round baby face.
Little Zoamelgustar was a relatively fast crawler, but nothing particularly alarming; he could pass for a normal energetic baby to those who didn't know him. He stopped in front of Xellos and looked up at him curiously, sitting on the floor. Martina thought it was important to allow Zoamelgustar to learn and explore, so if he wanted to take a close look at something, or someone, she'd let him and no one better get in his way. The child sat on the floor staring at Xellos for a long moment until he fell on his back from leaning his head back to look at the visitors that were much taller than him, as he was a rather small baby. Not phased by the minor setback, the child rolled over, and moved back into a crawling position, moving in circles around Xellos.
Everyone was curious and had expected Zoamelgustar to be as repulsive as the talisman that represented the creature it was named after; the creature that Martina claimed had reincarnated through her and Zangulus' firstborn. In a sense it had, as Zoamelgustar was Martina's own creation, had Martina been a monster lord, she would have, by wishing and believing it to be so, created herself a minion with that name and appearance. It further brought into question the rumor that told that Zelas was drunk on astral wine when she made Xellos, a peculiar black cone, but she had refused to give a straight answer to that.
Yet Martina was human, thankfully, so the process was a little different, her strong will and stubborn belief attracted enough chaotic energy to be absorbed by the life growing within her, before she even became aware of it; for the boy to be special. He might just end up at the center of a number of prophecies about evil wizards, but a baby was too young to concern himself with that anyway. Especially since right now he had a much more immediate concern, was this really uncle Xellos?
The soul of this creature felt like uncle Xellos, but the energy was very different. The energy that the magic sensitive child was used to feeling associated with the ever amusing uncle Xellos was radiating off the one his mother called aunty Filia. Well, having a new aunty was just fine, but what about uncle Xellos? Why was he different? Why did his hair look different, though his face remained the same? Why did he have a tail? Why was his energy so different? Was this really truly uncle Xellos, the same one he knew? What was wrong with him?
It was all too confusing for little Zoamelgustar and he didn't like being confused. He wished the energies around him felt familiar again, but nothing was familiar lately. He was a human, the balance of light and darkness, the ideal vessel of chaos. He realized and he perceived many things a subconscious level that humans generally ignored, but in his young age he had not learned to ignore. He felt the flow of magical energy rather than focus only on the physically perceptible like many adult non-magic users did. Right now, there was something big and bad taking away the energy of that world, as if stealing an invisible security blanket.
The bad thing was far away, but it made him uneasy, he was okay with his parents, they would protect him, he assumed, but he wasn't in the mood to be confused. He didn't like this; more unfamiliarity on top of everything upset him. So he cried. He opened his mouth wide and his little voice echoed loudly. The decorative blue flames of the golden candle holders with yellow candles that simulated being made of gold, but couldn't be, as such was an inconvenient material for candles, flared in response to the child's cries and the energy in the atmosphere stirred.
To be Continued